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Feedback archiveFeedback 2018

Pre-Fall seafood

Published: 21 April 2018 (GMT+10)

Today’s feedback is a question about death before the Fall. Specifically, if there was no carnivory before the Fall, what did sea creatures eat? Keaton Halley of CMI–US provides answers.


During some Bible reading this morning I came across some scriptures and it got me thinking about what it was that the creatures of the oceans ate since big fish wouldn't have eaten smaller fish because there would not have been death prior to sin.

The scripture is from Psalm 104:25–28 amplified version.

What would the sea creatures have eaten?



Hi R.K.,

Psalm 104 praises God for various aspects of nature, using the days of creation week as a literary motif to discuss God’s sovereignty over the present world. It is not a ‘creation account’ describing what God did throughout creation week, as some old-earth creationists have said, because it clearly refers to things that arose after the Fall—like ships, death and carnivory.

We have pointed out before that fish are called “living creatures” (nephesh chayyah) in Scripture. Therefore, we agree with you that they would not have died or been eaten before the Fall. Some fish today eat only algae and plant material. Other nephesh sea creatures are herbivorous as well, like manatees and dugongs, which mainly feed on sea grasses. Even the vampire squid, which looks menacing and whose name makes it sound like a predator, merely gathers ocean ‘snow’ on its tentacles to consume.

As for those creatures which are now carnivorous—they too would have eaten plants or non-nephesh organisms before the Fall. In fact, there were likely many things to eat beside plants, because the vast majority of ocean creatures are invertebrates. Invertebrates in general make up over 95% of all species, and many of these would not qualify as nephesh chayyah. So, for example, whales may have eaten krill or zooplankton even before the Fall without any death of nephesh life.

We may not be able to say in every instance what a specific creature ate before the Fall, but the above considerations based on Scripture along with simple observations about the present world give us a framework for thinking about this issue.

I hope that’s helpful.

Keaton Halley

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Thomas D.
This answer suggests that insects, bugs and suchlike were also foodstuffs for terrestrial types of animals.
Keaton Halley
That's right. Insects are not called nephesh chayyah (living creatures) in Scripture, so they may have been designed in part as a food source.
William H.
It seems that many have the misunderstanding of the very short period that Adam and Eve actually spent in the Garden of Eden before Adam sinned and God cursed creation ...
Israel S.
Quite a coincidence. I was meditating on Psalm 104 just a few days ago, and concluded that it must have been written with reference to the post-Fall era, as it mentioned lions hunting prey! Even in its broken state, God still cares for the world He has made. And in Romans, it groans, waiting for deliverance from this curse.

Thanks for continuing to answer the important questions!
Hans B.
No death before the fall?

Filter feeders of Phytoplankton* such as whales *(plant organism does not have breath of life so is technically not alive) would occasionally eat shrimp and other larva.

Q 1) What is the biblical definition of life? Adam was created being metabolizing his environment round about him but was not a living being until God breathed spirit into him.

Q 2) Are crustaceans, larva, shrimp etc alive?

Q 3) Would filter feeders have eaten 'killed' these creatures just by the nature of their feeding methods before the fall or am I missing something here?
Keaton Halley
In response to (3), my article did propose that they may have. Your other questions are addressed in the article I linked: Nephesh chayyah.

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